Keep Calm and Carry On | Ways to Maintain Sanity During Stress
March 19, 2020
Hello, friends. It's been a long time since I've posted a blog, but I felt that now was as good a time as any to dust off the old keyboard. Today, I'm going to be sharing with you some basic tips on how to maintain sanity during stressful times, and, especially, stressful, isolated times. Right now is a truly unprecedented time (at least, in our lifetimes), and a lot of things feel uncertain and unstable. Keeping calm and occupying ourselves as best we can is the best thing we can do. Sidenote: if you are a part of the group that isn't able to take time off, or if you are a part of the medical frontline, I am grateful for your work and I hope you are finding ways to de-stress and stay safe. I also think this roundup can apply to those who are still working, because, let's be honest, things are weird. At least where I live, everything is pretty effectively closed. Small shops, all bars and restaurants, salons, spas, movie theaters, craft stores, the mall, everything except "essential" stores are closed, indefinitely. There are literally no options of things to do outside the house, and, even if there were, it would be my hope that people would still make the appropriate decision to #flattenthecurve by social distancing and staying at home (even if it isn't the most ideal).
I am an introvert, and I actually love staying at home. But even I, a self proclaimed anti-social isolationist, struggle to maintain hope and optimism when I'm stuck inside for an undetermined period (and the fact that there are no alternative options makes it a little worse). So I decided to sit with myself for a good while to come up with things that help me during these times, and I think it's been pretty helpful. Which is why I'm sharing it.
1. Gratitude Journaling
I'm putting this at number one, because maintaining perspective is integral right now. There are so many people who are losing their jobs, losing their incomes, and losing stability, and maintaining gratitude during difficult times can really help with morale. If you still have stability (it can take many forms, food, shelter, love, family, pets, paycheck certainty), that DESERVES gratitude. It is easy to fall into a hole of ourselves and to ignore what is happening to our neighbors and our friends, but keeping track of things we feel gratitude for is a good way to maintain perspective and to have at least a little bit of optimism in a day.
2. Be Gentle with Yourself
This is an unprecedented time, and it's difficult to know how to take it. We are all taking things one day at a time and living as best we can. All you can do is stay informed (limit your intake of news, but don't eliminate it entirely), and make the best decisions for yourself. If you are home bound for a while and you're finding routine or concentration difficult during this time, give yourself space to feel those feelings. Reach out to a friend, your mom, your dad, a sibling, etc. because chances are, you are not alone in those feelings. BUT know when it's time to kick yourself in the ass and try to move past the uncertainty.
3. Finally Work on That To-Do List (or Don't)
There are lots of people who are recommending making this period an extremely productive one, but the fact of the matter is that that is not going to happen for a lot of people. It's difficult to self motivate during times like these. If you're a person finding it difficult to kick the organization into high gear- that's okay. Shift your focus and try to do something else. Something creative, something useless, but fun, something that is a total waste of time, but actually fills your cup. This doesn't have to be home improvement 2020. It can be self improvement 2020. Or self care 2020. Or catch up on all of the random things you've planned to for years but haven't yet had time to do 2020. Use this period in a way that actually serves you, but.....
4. Don't Do Nothing
It can be so easy to park your butt on the couch and watch Netflix for 6,000 hours straight, but believe me when I say that is NOT good. Times like these can easily lead to depression for a lot of people, and a quick path toward that if you're already predisposed is to sit, and do nothing. You definitely don't need to build a new house during this time, but you should still try to occupy yourself with something, even if that something is coloring or learning TikTok dances or playing solitaire. Keep your mind moving, don't stagnate, and TAKE CARE of yourself.
5. Keep with Routine
This goes along with taking care of yourself 1,500%. Part of self care is maintaining a routine, even if that doesn't seem very self-care-y. And a routine doesn't have to be intense. It can be as simple as brushing your hair and teeth, putting on deodorant, and changing your underwear in the morning. Keeping with my routine means getting ready in the morning. Changing my clothes (aka not wearing PJs all day), doing my skincare, putting on some makeup, and tidying the things I normally do in the morning (make the bed, wash my makeup brushes, put away extra clothes, makeup, etc). If you've never been much for routine, maybe now is a good time to cultivate a few self serving habits that will give you the feeling of consistency or stability (you'd be shocked at how cathartic having a made bed every day can be). Don't fall into a hole. Do the things you normally do when you would normally do them.
6. Dust off All of Those Hobbies You Started to Try Once
I'm convinced we ALL have these things. You know the things. We've all gotten inspired one (or twenty) times to start painting or crocheting or making pottery or reading or whatever. We've all gone to the craft store, stocked up on supplies.... and did the things once before putting the supplies in a storage box. What better time to dust those things off! Making something with your own two hands is satisfying (and time consuming, aka perfect for now).
I am living proof that you don't need a gym to work out. I've been exercising super consistently for nearly 10 years and I have NEVER worked out in a proper gym. I have always only worked out at home. No equipment? No problem! If you have the internet, you can literally do anything. There are probably one billion exercise videos on YouTube that require no equipment and no gym. Get your cardio salsa on, boo! Exercise gives you a boost of endorphins and makes you feel a little better (it's true. Try it out).
8. Eat what Feels Good, but Try to Make it Less Than 75% Trash Food
I understand that the grocery is a tough place right now (both in stock and in the ability to maintain social distance), and sugar is so appealing, but let's try to maintain a little bit of nutrition. Both to maintain our mental health, and to maintain our physical health. We need to be nourished! And doughnuts are not very nourishing (though, they do provide happy factor which is worth a lot in my opinion, so eat a doughnut, just don't eat three doughnuts a day, every day).
9. Go Outside!!
That is, go outside if you live in a place where it hasn't been monsooning for a month solid (aka where I live). Social distancing does not mean staying inside of your house 24/7. Take a walk, get some fresh air, jog! I think nature has power, and being in it makes me FEEL good. Especially now that spring is springing and trees are blooming. It's a great day to go for a walk.
Connect yourself with others. Send a voice note, FaceTime, Google Hang, Text, Email. There are endless ways to connect in 2020 that do not require physical touch, and now, more than ever you should use them. We are all in this together, but it is so easy to feel alone. Let your pals know that they are not alone. I'm here letting you know you're not alone! If you ever feel alone, DM me. I'll send you pictures of sealions and kittens and all of the things in the world that are not sad.
11. Offer Help and Ask for Help
If you are in a situation where you need assistance, ask for it. If you have friends or family members that you know are in need of assistance, offer it. There are a lot of people suffering financially because of what is happening in the world right now, and if you can lend a hand or an ear, spare a dollar or a kind thought, I'm positive it would be appreciated.
And I'm sure there are one trillion other things that could be mentioned or could be helpful, but these are the eleven things getting me through. I'd love to hear what you've been doing to keep your brain happy amidst this time of crazy closures. Love to every one of you. Stay safe, stay happy.